The Chef’s Council: bringing haute cuisine to dysphagia cooking 

Nutricia initiated the Chefs’ Council: a unique partnership of dysphagia experts (including healthcare professionals, patients and carers), as well as world-class chefs, who work together to make food pleasurable for patients who have been diagnosed with swallowing difficulties. The Council’s ultimate aim is to improve the dining experience of dysphagia patients by developing dysphagia diet menus that include foods and drinks which are not only safe and nutritious but appetizing too.

The Chef's Council

Experts from across Europe met at the first Chefs’ Council meeting in Barcelona in 2017 and have since worked together to develop recipes to inspire and inform chefs and carers involved in preparing dysphagia meals, whether in hospitals and institutions or at home. They have also jointly developed and pledged to implement the guiding principles of the Dysphagia Act.

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What is the Dysphagia Act?

It is the fundamental belief of the Chef’s Council is that patients with dysphagia deserve to enjoy mealtimes so their quality of life can be maintained as far as possible. No matter whether they are in hospital, a care facility or at home, tasty, good food has the power to transform patients’ lives. This conviction is central to the work of the Chefs’ Council and the development of the Dysphagia Act – a collective movement towards providing better food for patients – contributing to encouraging healthier, eating and drinking habits.

The Dysphagia Act is founded on three key principles

SAFETY: People with dysphagia need food and drinks of a specific texture in order to swallow safely. Ensuring a safer food experience also means effective handwashing, kitchen cleanliness and appropriate food storage.

NUTRITION: Good nutrition has an important role in the survival, recovery and wellbeing of people with dysphagia. Diets should be nutritionally balanced and include a wide variety of food and drinks.

PLEASURE: Eating an enjoyable meal is everyone's right and providing pleasure through food and drink is a priority for chefs and carers. Taste, smell and presentation are key factors in achieving a pleasurable food experience.

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Dysphagia Connect: Nutricia supports patients from hospital to home

Discharge from hospital following a stroke and a diagnosis of dysphagia can be a worrying time for all concerned. Many patients and those who care for them will be unsure how to cope with the new way of preparing food and drinks once they arrive home, without the advice and oversight of those who cared for them during their stay in hospital. 

For this reason and with support from the Chef’s Council, Nutricia have developed a programme called Dysphagia Connect. As well as an introduction to dysphagia, what it is and what it means for the patient and carer, the programme includes a beautifully presented instructional cookbook that guides the user from the very basics of dysphagia cooking, all the way through to expert level dishes and drinks. The book also includes detailed information on safety, preparation and presentation of texture-modified dishes and drinks.

Download the Dysphagia Connect Booklet

This guide has been created with support from The Chef’s Council, a group of international experts dedicated to improving the quality of food and drinks for people with dysphagia and those who care for them.

Download Dysphagia Connect Booklet
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Stroke and dysphagia: an introduction

A stroke is a serious health event caused by a disruption of the blood supply to a part of the brain. Distressing for both the patient and their family, a stroke can result in problems with movement and balance, as well as a swallowing difficulty known as 'dysphagia’[1,2]. Dysphagia, which affects around half of stroke patients[3], can not only be an uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition, but a potentially a dangerous one too, with patients at risk of choking and of developing lung problems such as pneumonia[4].

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Dysphagia following stroke and its impact on eating and drinking

Swallowing difficulties such as dysphagia can lead to increased anxiety at mealtimes. The risk of accidently inhaling drinks or food can lead to loss of enjoyment when eating or drinking. Some patients will reduce their fluid and food intake out of worry; the levels of malnutrition and dehydration in dysphagia patients are high and can negatively impact the recovery process[5-10] An effective and widely used way of managing dysphagia is to change the consistency and texture of food and drinks.